Forum Archive : Propositions

Fifteen on the bar

From:   Pete
Date:   11 November 2002
Subject:   A Proposition Game

Back in the 70's when I used to play a lot in various clubs, we had a
proposition game, but I don't recall the name of it.

One side would start in the normal position, and the other side would start
with all 15 men in the air. If I remember it right, the first side gave
about 7 to 1 money odds to the other side (depending on negotiation
skills). The cube was used as normal.

Player A (15 on the bar) has the easier time to play his checkers. In fact
most of his play is pretty automatic, no-brainer types.

Generally the way these games go is that B hits everything in sight without
any care in the world. He hopes that A rolls a 6 with one of his dice. Both
sides are hoping for small doubles to make points in B's inner board. If A
managed to make the 1 and 2 (or 3 points) then he basically has a won game.
In fact, I don't think B can take a double.

Is the game still played? Anybody recall the name, or other details?


Douglas Zare  writes:

I've seen n:1 odds given one some props, such as winning while closed out,
or winning against 14 off. I've seen points per game offered for a prop
with the cube in play. However, what do you mean by 7 to 1 money odds with
the cube used as normal? 3/4 of a point paid with a centered cube?

Douglas Zare

Nobody  writes:

If I win the game, you pay me $1/point.  If you win, I pay you
$7/point.  But I will insist that the Jacoby rule not be used. :-)

This prop was played by various people at the Novi tournament this year
(at 6:1 or 7:1; I forget).  There are a few things to learn about the
checkerplay in this position, but it mostly seems to be about handling
the cube properly, which is nontrivial at the payoff odds.  The prop is
good practice for playing the snake.

Douglas Zare  writes:

I don't think the finer points of rolling home an outside prime should
matter much. Most people would have no idea what to do with the doubling
cube when playing at odds. (Should you take if you win 50% and your
opponent is paid 7:1? Yes, even if it were 7:0. You should pass at 7:1 if
you only win 40% single games, though.) That said, I'm sure there is a lot
of skill involved in just the checker play, and I think this would be an
interesting prop by ordinary rules.

Michael Sullivan  writes:

I'm realizing propositions like this would be incredible hustler's
games.  If you're competent and have thought a lot about how to use the
cube at odds, you'd have a big advantage over someone who has not, even
if they are a better player in general.

It would certainly be good practice for backgames and what to do when
way behind.

Douglas Zare  writes:

> It would certainly be good practice for backgames and what to do when
> way behind.

I disagree. Most backgames that arise in practice do not involve 15
checkers back. If you have 15 checkers back, certain things are very
different from if you have only 5, 8, or even 12 checkers back. You can
kill/damage most deep-anchor backgames by priming them, but if 15 checkers
are back that only threatens to make your opponent release the backwards
anchor(s). Quite different tactics kill backgames with 15 checkers back.

Most backgames do not produce full primes in the outer boards, but it is an
important strategy here. Most backgames produce some chances to run off the
backgammon in case the other side clears points early, but that tends to be
hopeless here. Most backgames allow you to choose to break anchors in order
to produce more shots (say, when your opponent has 12 off and 3 checkers on
the 3 point), but here you might easily end up with 8 checkers on a point
you would like to break.

Ronald van Tiggelen  writes:

I remember something like this but with some different details.
15 on the bar: right
opponent does not have opening position but 3 checkers on 6,5,4,3, and 2-pt.
Here comes the catch: side on bar starts AND does not roll but can CALL his

With this catch the seemingly hopeless side was thought to have 7 to 1
winning chances indeed.

This prop was played only against not-knowing people. Any shot will be hit
and almost always rolled home.

Hope this helped.
Ronald van Tiggelen. akaYETI on GG
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Choose roll vs. double roll  (Larry Deckel, Jan 1997) 
Choose roll vs. double-roll  (Rafy Marootians+, Mar 1994) 
Eight checkers vs. fifteen  (Raccoon, Feb 2006) 
Fifteen on the bar  (Pete+, Nov 2002) 
Monte Carlo 1998  (Daniel Murphy, Feb 2006)  [GammOnLine forum]
No ones  (Murat Kalinyaprak, Oct 2002) 
Opening 11 vs. Owning the cube  (Bob Ebbeler+, Aug 1999) 
Tino Road Position  (Arthur+, Apr 2005) 
Up in the air  (Daniel Murphy, Feb 2006)  [GammOnLine forum]

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